VIII Glion Colloquium: Global sustainability and the role of universities

President Emeritus James Duderstadt served as the principal investigator of this National Science Foundation award to fund the VIII Glion Colloquium, which brought together university leaders to generate discussion and knowledge to better understand the roles that can be played by the world’s research universities in addressing the various elements of global sustainability. 

Start date: 4/1/2011
End date: 3/31/2013

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Over the past decade, the Glion Colloquium has established itself as an influential resource in addressing both the challenges and roles of the world’s research universities.  Every two years, the Colloquium brings together in Glion-Above-Montreux, Switzerland, university leaders and influential participants from business and government from around the world to consider key issues.  

The papers and discussion summaries from each Colloquium are published and widely distributed, including electronic distribution at  Although the early colloquia involved primarily participants from Europe and North America, more recently the Glion Colloquium has been extended to achieve a true global participation.  In 2007, the Colloquium invited the leaders of 20 of the world’s leading research universities, along with participants from business and global organizations to consider the issue of globalization.  

Once again in 2009, a group of university leaders from around the world was assembled to consider the increasingly important role of research universities in supporting innovation-driven economies. These two colloquia provided useful preparation for focusing the VIII Glion Colloquium in June 2011 on the topic of the role of the world’s research universities in addressing the challenges of global sustainability.

The VIII Glion Colloquium was held in June 2011 to consider the roles that could be played by the world's research universities in addressing the various challenges of global sustainability in the broadest sense, e.g., climate, environmental, economic, health, poverty and geopolitical. Of particular interest was the degree to which the imperatives of global sustainability were driving change in higher education around the world.

This included considerations not only of how research universities were adapting to the imperatives of global sustainability (e.g., social diversity, resource management, academic programs, research and scholarship), but also how they could develop new curricula, student experiences, research paradigms, social engagement and international alliances to better address the challenges of global sustainability, while producing globally identified citizens. The Colloquium also considered longer-term possibilities that might pose even greater threats to global sustainability and how universities could prepare their graduates for such eventualities.


VIII Glion Colloquium: Global Sustainability and the Role of Universities, National Science Foundation: $98,882


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…"